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Beauty for Sale

Beauty for Sale(1933)

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Pretty Letty Lawson confides in her roommate, New York beautician Carol Merrick, that she has used up the money that her poor Kentucky parents gave her to attend beauty school and now needs a job to make ends meet. Although chastized by her brother Bill, who is inve with Letty and believes that she is too good to work in a beauty parlor, Carol helps Letty secure a job at Madame Sonia's, the uptown parlor where she is employed. Soon after starting at Madame Sonia's, Letty is sent to the home of Mrs. Henrietta Sherwood, a nervous, bored socialite who pays more attention to her dog than to her lawyer husband. After manicuring Henrietta's hands, Letty discovers that her employer's dog has chewed up her hat, destruction that the kindly Mr. Sherwood insists on compensating Letty for personally. When Letty shows up at Madame Sonia's in an expensive, stylish hat, Carol, a self-professed gold digger who has been dating a wealthy married man named Freddy Gordon, is instantly suspicious of Sherwood's motives. While Letty is quietly pursued by Sherwood, Jane, another beautician, becomes involved in a secretive romance with Burt Barton, Madame Sonia's handsome but weak-willed son. Jealous of Sherwood's gifts to Letty, the simple but sincere Bill confronts Letty about the relationship and insinuates that she is no better than Carol. Fed up with Bill and his doting mother's criticisms, Letty decides to move out of the Merrick house and room with Jane. Later, Letty joins Sherwood for dinner on his yacht and learns that Henrietta is spending the summer in Maine. After a summer of friendly dates, Sherwood confesses to Letty that he loves her and, while not able to divorce his wife, wishes to continue their romance. Unsure, Letty asks for a week to consider Sherwood's proposition, and he grants her the time. During the next week, Jane reveals to Burt, who is about to leave for Russia on an engineering job, that she is pregnant and must marry him before his departure. Although Burt promises to marry Jane the next Sunday, Letty sees him on Saturday boarding the same ocean liner that Carol, who has talked Freddy into taking her to Paris with him, is taking. When Jane hears of Burt's betrayal, she becomes hysterical and, in spite of Letty's sisterly support, jumps from her apartment window to her death. Sobered by both Jane's suicide and Carol's strongly worded advise that she stay away from married men, Letty tells Sherwood their relationship has ended. Bill then shows up at the shop and shyly asks Letty for a date. Although not attracted to Bill, whose bad jokes both embarrass and irritate her, Letty agrees to date him. At the same time, Sherwood tries to improve his marriage by encouraging Henrietta to build a house in the country with him. By chance, Letty and Bill drive to the site of the Sherwood's lavish new home, where Bill acts like a clod in front of Henrietta and her architect, Robert Abbott. In spite of Bill's behavior, Letty accepts his engagement ring and admits to Henrietta later that she and Bill are to marry. Just before the wedding, however, Letty has a change of heart and tells Carol, who has returned from Paris as Freddy's new wife, that she cannot marry Bill. When Henrietta then confesses to Sherwood, who believes that Letty is now married, that she has fallen in love with Abbott and wants a divorce, Sherwood explodes with anger. Moments before Sherwood is about to sell the new country house, however, Letty learns of Henrietta's desertion and rushes to reunite with Sherwood as his bride-to-be.